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Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

Newly declassified U.S. intelligence accuses Russia of spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, as it tries to influence Americans with the November election approaching.

The English-language propaganda and disinformation pushed by the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence agency, includes the amplification of false Chinese arguments that the virus was created by the American military, as well as articles that say Russian medical assistance could bring about a new détente with Washington.

Many of the pieces were published on InfoRos, a site controlled by the Russian government, and OneWorld.Press, a nominally independent site that American officials said had ties to the G.R.U.

What this means: The campaign is a refinement of what Russia tried to do during the 2016 presidential campaign. The fake social media accounts and bots it used then are relatively easy to stamp out. It’s far harder to stop the dissemination of propaganda on websites that seem legitimate, experts say.

In any other year, Muslims undertaking the annual pilgrimage to Mecca would drink from a holy well and kiss the Kaaba’s Black Stone as they thronged the Grand Mosque. Before they left Mecca, they would collect pebbles to ritually stone the devil.

During the coronavirus edition of the hajj, which begins today, the Black Stone is off limits. The authorities in Saudi Arabia are issuing bottled water from the Zamzam well instead of letting people drink from the source. The pebbles hurled at the devil will be sterilized. And far fewer pilgrims will be there.

It’s not that this is disappointing. But there’s a certain level of déjà vu with NASA’s Perseverance mission, modeled so closely after the successful Curiosity rover in 2011. I have written a lot about the value of exploring Mars and the particularly Earthlike qualities that endear it to us. But even I can’t help but wonder what’s next in our quest to explore the solar system, and whether so many journeys to Mars are blocking other important science.

David W. Brown: There’s an entire solar system waiting to be explored. Since 2001, NASA has flown eight consecutive successful missions to Mars, including five landers. Humanity now has a library of Mars data sitting on servers that no one has had a chance to study. Data collected from brief encounters by spacecraft with the moons of Jupiter, on the other hand, or the ice giants, Uranus and Neptune, have been squeezed dry.

Rebecca: Meanwhile, as planetary scientists debated how to pay for their missions, some geologists salivate for a second look at Venus, the second planet from the sun. Venus is about the same size as Earth, it’s rocky, it has an atmosphere. And it orbits the sun in a zone where temperatures are just right for liquid water — and maybe life.

We know Mars had water at some point in its past, but it’s long gone. By contrast, Venus might have had oceans more recently and for longer periods, and may have been comfortably livable for billions of years.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Isabella

Thank you
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at
[email protected]

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about the battle over unemployment benefits in the U.S. Congress.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Trail behind a boat (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Abrahm Lustgarten recently spoke with KGO about his Times Magazine article on climate migration.

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Donald Trump news: President unleashes fury at “corrupt” New York after supreme court rule | World | News

The court’s decision follows demands issued by Manhattan lawyer Cy Vance Jr, who demanded Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA hand over the President’s financial documents.

The Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday mean Mr Vance will be able to go back to court and have his demand enforced.

Mr Trump issued a series of ferocious tweets in response to the court’s decision.

He wrote: “Courts in the past have given “broad deference”. BUT NOT ME!

“This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!

Mr Trump’s ‘Mueller Witch Hunt’ statement references a past legal case brought against him involving Russian interference in his election.

READ: Trump attempt to scrap DACA immigration programme blocked by Supreme Court

However, reports have emerged claiming the court’s ruling could affect the President’s bid for re-election.

Despite the court ruling that New York investigators may be allowed to see Mr Trump’s financial records, judges decided other investigators were not.

CNBC reports the Supreme Court blocked similar demands by Democrats in the US House of Representatives.

Mr Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow claimed this was a victory for the president.

Mr Sekulow said he was pleased the Supreme Court had “temporarily blocked” the US Democrats’ demands.

All of the cases against Mr Trump discussed in the ruling involved subpoenas – demands for certain documents to be handed over.

According to reports, two such demands were issued by the US financial services and intelligence committees.

These demands attempted to get banks to hand over information on Mr Trump and his family.

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Trump attacks plan to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ outside his New York City home – live | US news

Arizona recorded more coronavirus deaths, infections, hospitalizations and emergency-room visits in a single day than ever before in a crisis, in a day across the Sunbelt that sent a shudder through other parts of the country and led distant states to put their own reopening plans on hold.

“Put a mask on it”Vice President Mike Pence waves as he arrives to meet with Arizona governor Doug Ducey to discuss the surge in coronavirus cases.

“Put a mask on it”

Vice President Mike Pence waves as he arrives to meet with Arizona governor Doug Ducey to discuss the surge in coronavirus cases. Photograph: Ross D Franklin/AP

In Florida, hospitals braced for an influx of patients, with the biggest medical center in Florida’s hardest-hit county, Miami’s Jackson Health System, scaling back elective surgeries and other procedures to make room for victims of the resurgence underway across the South and West, The Associated Press reports.

Vice President Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force, planned to visit Arizona today, where cases have spiked since stay-at-home orders expired in mid-May.

Arizona reported record single-day highs of almost 4,900 new Covid-19 cases, 88 new deaths, close to 1,300 ER visits and a running total of nearly 2,900 people in the hospital.

Florida recorded more than 6,500 new cases down from around 9,000 on some days last week, but still alarming and a running total of over 3,500 deaths.

Ahead of the Fourth of July, counties in South Florida are closing beaches to fend off large crowds that could spread the virus.

The run-up in cases has been blamed in part on what New Jersey’s governor called “knucklehead behavior” by Americans not wearing masks or obeying other social-distancing rules.

“Too many people were crowding into restaurants late at night, turning these establishments into breeding grounds for this deadly virus,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said in forbidding restaurants with seating for more than eight people from serving customers inside from midnight to 6am.

Health experts say the virus in Florida and other Southern states risks becoming uncontrollable, with case numbers too large to trace.

Marilyn Rauth, a senior citizen in Punta Gorda, said Florida’s reopening was “too much too soon.”
“The sad thing is the Covid-19 spread will probably go on for some time though we could have flattened the curve with responsible leadership,” she said.

“Experience now has shown most people won’t social distance at beaches, bars, etc. The governor evidently has no concern for the health of the state’s citizens.”

Some distant states and cities that seemed to have tamed their outbreaks, including Colorado, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, hit pause or backtracked on some of their reopening plans for bars and restaurants.

And New York and New Jersey are asking visitors from 16 states from the Carolinas to California to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city is delaying its resumption of indoor dining at restaurants, and not because of any rise in cases there.

The number of confirmed cases in the US per day has roughly doubled over the past month, hitting 44,800 on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

That is higher even than what the nation witnessed during the deadliest stretch of the crisis in mid-April through early May.

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Rayshard Brooks funeral set for Atlanta, as Kentucky and New York vote – live updates | US news



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New York officials defend curfew, subway safety ahead of Monday reopening

(Reuters) – Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday said New York is on track to reopen on Monday from the coronavirus lockdown that turned the most populous U.S. city into a virtual ghost town, restarting work at 32,000 shuttered construction sites.

Both the mayor and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo dug in after critics urged an end to an 8 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew set to last until Monday morning following looting and other violence amid city protests sparked by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.

Los Angeles is among several U.S. cities that lifted curfews after critics said they unnecessarily restricted the right to protest.

“5 a.m. Monday the curfew ends and does not come back,” de Blasio told a news conference.

Cuomo, who had been at de Blasio’s side when the curfew was announced earlier this week, said it was a “local decision” he supports, noting, “you have not seen the looting in the past couple of days.”

On Monday, the first stage in restoring economic activity will allow 32,000 construction sites to reopen, de Blasio said.

“Getting people back their livelihood – that’s what Phase 1 is about,” he said.

Trains in the world’s largest subway system have undergone weeks of disinfecting, and platforms have been marked for social distancing. The city is confident people will be safe, said city Transit Authority Interim President Sarah Feinberg.

“The system is going to be busy. There will be crowding conditions,” Feinberg said. “People have to be very vigilant about mask usage and putting as much space between themself and others as they can.”

While clearly mass transit “is the way to get around” the often-congested city, many will choose instead to drive their own cars, she said, offering two words of advice to New Yorkers with a short commute: “Consider walking.”

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut and Barbara Goldberg in Maplewood, New Jersey; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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U.S. stay-at-home frustration spreads; coronavirus-battered New York says may be past the worst

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Demonstrations to demand an end to stay-at-home measures that have pummelled the U.S. economy spread to Texas on Saturday as the governor at the epicentre of the U.S. coronavirus crisis said his state of New York may finally be past the worst.

New York, which has recorded nearly half the country’s deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the highly infectious virus, on Saturday reported 540 coronavirus-related deaths for April 17, down from 630 a day earlier and the lowest daily tally since April 1.

The number of patients in the state requiring intensive care and ventilators to help them breathe was also down.

“If you look at the past three days, you could argue that we are past the plateau and we’re starting to descend, which would be very good news,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in his daily briefing.

Some 2,000 people were still being hospitalized with COVID-19 every day, Cuomo said, and he noted 36 of the latest New York deaths occurred at nursing homes, which have been ravaged by the pandemic nationwide.

In neighboring New Jersey, both the number of new hospitalizations and new coronavirus cases were also slightly down from the day before, Governor Phil Murphy said. But he added: “We are not out of the woods, we have not yet plateaued.”

Illinois reported 125 new coronavirus deaths and an additional 1,585 cases but said the growth rate was slowing.

Murphy said he had a “concerning” call with Senate minority leader and fellow Democrat Chuck Schumer, who told him there was no momentum in the U.S. Congress for direct aid to states whose economies were suffering from the stay-at-home orders aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Without federal aid, the state will see “historic” layoffs, he said.

More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past month as closures of businesses and schools and severe travel restrictions have hammered the economy.

But an influential research model said late on Friday the strict adherence to the orders imposed in 42 of the 50 U.S. states was a key factor behind an improved outlook for the country’s coronavirus death toll.

The University of Washington’s predictive model, regularly updated and often cited by state public health authorities and White House officials, projected the virus would take 60,308 U.S. lives by Aug. 4, down 12% from a forecast earlier in the week.

The model predicted some states may be able to begin safely easing restrictions as early as May 4.

People sit in a car with an American flag as protesters against the state’s extended stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) demonstrate at the Capitol building in Austin, Texas, U.S., April 18, 2020. REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare


Many have already started pushing back against the measures.

Governor Murphy chastised an official in Atlantic County, home to Atlantic City, for expressing frustration in a Facebook post over the effect of the closures on the casino-dependent local economy. County surrogate Jim Curcio said his comments were his personal opinion.

“I’ve lived here all my life and when we go into a recession here we seem to be the last to come out of it and people suffer terribly and the most vulnerable suffer the most,” Curcio told Reuters on Saturday. “What is happening to the private sector is my breaking my heart.”

On Saturday, several dozen protesters gathered in the Texas capital of Austin chanting “USA! USA!” and “Let us work!”

In Brookfield, Wisconsin, hundreds of demonstrators cheered as they lined a main road and waved American flags to protest at the extension of that state’s “safer at home” order.

Earlier in the week, scattered protests erupted in the capitols of Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia. The demonstrators mostly flouted the social-distancing rules and did not wear the face masks recommended by public health officials.

As of Friday night, New York has mandated the statewide wearing of masks for anyone out in public and unable to practice social distancing.

Republican President Donald Trump appeared to encourage protesters with a series of Twitter posts on Friday calling for them to “LIBERATE” Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, all run by Democratic governors.

Trump had touted a thriving economy as the best case for his re-election in November.

Several states, including Ohio, Michigan, Texas and Florida, have said they aim to reopen parts of their economies, perhaps by May 1 or even sooner, but appeared to be staying cautious.

Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis reopened some beaches with restrictions from Friday evening, but also said on Saturday that schools will remain closed and continue distance learning the rest of this school year.

Fellow Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas has also extended school closures to the end of the academic year.

Health experts say that to avoid a second wave of infections as people return to work, extensive testing must be available to track infections, as well as contact tracing and antibody testing to learn who had been previously infected and might have some immunity.

Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday the United States had the capacity to do a sufficient amount of testing for states to move into a phase one of reopening.

Slideshow (11 Images)

Governors and state health officials say there is nowhere near enough test kits and equipment available, however.

The United States has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 720,000 infections and over 37,000 deaths.

The handful of states that did not issue stay-at-home orders have all seen significant surges in new cases.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, Maria Caspani in New York, Jennifer Hiller in Houston and Idrees Ali in Washington; Writing by Bill Berkrot and Sonya Hepinstall; Editing by Daniel Wallis

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Migrant children in US custody in New York test positive

Three unaccompanied minor children in U.S. custody in New York have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Thursday.

The children, whose ages and nationalities weren’t released, are in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The office is responsible for housing migrant minors.

The agency said it is doing an evaluation of the children and will not release them from New York care provider facilities.

The resettlement office’s medical team “is working with the programs in New York and local health department to collect information and determine next steps,” a statement from the agency said. 

The statement said the office has stopped placements of unaccompanied minor children in the states of California, New York, and Washington, which have been the hardest hit by the coronavirus. With more than 30,000 cases in New York, the state has become the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the United States. 

“ORR is prioritizing local placements for all new referrals from DHS to limit air travel when possible,” the statement said.   

Border patrol agent Joe Romero escorts four unattended migrant children from Ecuador to another agent for transport Tuesday, Feb. 18, by the east bridge near Staton bride in El Paso. The children were waiting by the border fence on the Mexico side alone until agent Romero approached them and began asking them where they were trying to go. The children told agent Romero they did not have parents with them.

The agency said 18 children have been tested for COVID-19, with three presumptive cases confirmed, 11 negative results, and 4 that are still pending.

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The agency said if a health care provider or public health department recommends testing for a child, that they receive the testing. Any child showing symptoms is medically isolated from other children, pending negative test results, the agency said. 

Five staff members and one staff contractor at three separate care provider facilities in New York recently tested positive for COVID-19, the statement said. One staff member at a facility in Texas, and one foster parent in Washington State have also tested positive.

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Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has gone into isolation because her doctor tested positive for the new coronavirus, and her cabinet plans to make 150 billion euros in emergency funds available today for dealing with the pandemic. Here are the latest updates on the virus and maps of where it has spread.

Germany’s aid package represents the first time the country has taken on debt since adopting a balanced-budget law after the 2008 financial crisis. It’s yet another sign of growing urgency across the Continent — particularly in Spain, which has nearly a third of Europe’s 100,000-plus confirmed cases.

Initial missteps by officials in Italy have underscored the importance of early, strict isolation measures. Yet the stringent new measures being hastily imposed from Berlin to Barcelona still may not be enough to stop the virus from overwhelming more health systems. On Saturday, Italy reported 793 additional deaths, the biggest single-day toll of any country so far.

Other news from Europe and beyond:

  • Spain’s Parliament is expected to approve the government’s request to extend a national state of emergency until at least April 11. Lorenzo Sanz, the former president of the soccer powerhouse Real Madrid, died on Saturday after contracting the virus.

  • A 5.3-magnitude earthquake hit that just north of Zagreb, Croatia, on Sunday, injuring at least 17 people, has complicated the country’s efforts to respond to the outbreak.

  • Germany barred groups of more than two people from gathering, except for families, while Britain closed its pubs and schools.

  • The Palestinian authorities reported the first two coronavirus cases in the densely populated Gaza Strip, where aid workers say the virus’s spread could quickly lead to a public health disaster.

  • Canada said it would not send its athletes to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, after the International Olympic Committee announced that it would decide within four weeks whether to delay or scale down the Games.

  • Early evidence suggests that a lost or reduced sense of smell, along with a loss of taste, are significant symptoms associated with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Video: Three doctors and a nurse in a hard-hit region of Italy describe what they faced as the epidemic escalated.

Question: How do we talk about travel when it’s grinding to a halt? Our Travel desk is compiling its first reader-generated “36 Hours” column.

What we’re watching: This video on Twitter. “It’s a bunch of Italian mayors and local leaders lashing out at people who are not obeying the decrees demanding that people stay at home,” writes Jason Horowitz, our Rome bureau chief, who has covered the coronavirus pandemic even through his own quarantine. “I did love this.”

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all of the systems that keep our lives running. Add to that the pressures of work (and holding onto a job) in an increasingly precarious economy.

Those strains, felt across the world, were echoed in text exchanges between the editor of our gender initiative, Francesca Donner, and Corinne Purtill, a journalist based in Los Angeles. The two women have five children between them.

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New York City closing movie theaters, entertainment venues due to coronavirus

New York City will close all of its bars and restaurants on Tuesday, with service limited to delivery and take out because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus, according to a statement by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday.

The executive order will be signed tomorrow and will go into effect on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Nightclubs, movie theatres, small theater houses, and concert venues must also close.

“Our lives are all changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago. We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbors,” the mayor announced.


Japanese tourists wear face masks as they sit and chat in Times Square in New York, on Sunday, March 15, 2020. President Donald Trump on Sunday called on Americans to cease hoarding groceries and other supplies, while one of the nation's most senior public health officials called on the nation to act with more urgency to safeguard their health as the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread across the United States. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Japanese tourists wear face masks as they sit and chat in Times Square in New York, on Sunday, March 15, 2020. President Donald Trump on Sunday called on Americans to cease hoarding groceries and other supplies, while one of the nation’s most senior public health officials called on the nation to act with more urgency to safeguard their health as the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread across the United States. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

De Blasio said “now is the time” to take this drastic step because of how quickly the virus can be spread through close interactions in those types of limited spaces. It’s unclear how long this new measure will stay in effect.

“This is not a decision I make lightly,” he added. “These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”

A food truck vendor pushes his cart down an empty street near Times Square in New York, on Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

A food truck vendor pushes his cart down an empty street near Times Square in New York, on Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

There were more than 329 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York City as of Sunday night, while five people have died from the virus.

Only 25 cases were confirmed in the city a week ago. Due to a lack of testing, the infected numbers are likely to be much higher.


“We will come through this, but until we do, we must make whatever sacrifices necessary to help our fellow New Yorkers.”

De Blasio announced earlier in the day that all schools in the city would close from Monday until late-April, while adding there was a possibility “we may not have the opportunity to re-open them.” That decision came in response to pressure from parents and teachers in the city.


“It is quite clear that this crisis is growing intensely,” the mayor said earlier on Sunday. “We’ve never been through anything like this.”

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House of Lords ‘could be moved to York’ by Boris Johnson

House of Lords could be moved to YORK as Boris Johnson ‘reconnects with the country’ and shifts power to Tories’ new northern heartlands

  • Ministers are considering moving the House of Lords to the north or midlands
  • York and Birmingham have been identified as potential sites for the chamber
  • Boris Johnson is determined to reconnect new Tory heartlands with politics 

The House of Lords could be moved to York as Boris Johnson shifts power to his new Tory political heartlands.

The government is considering permanently relocating the second chamber to the north or midlands, in a signal that he is determined to give a voice to the areas that delivered his election victory.

Ministers have hailed efforts to ‘connect with the whole of the country’ after the PM ordered detailed work on the practicalities of putting the Lords in Yorkshire. 

The plans have gone as far as identifying disused land owned by the government near York railway station as a potential site, according to the Sunday Times. 

The Commons could also go ‘on tour’, holding debates away from London, in a bid to reconnect democracy to the wider UK.

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said he was ‘supportive’ of the relocation and in principle it would be a ‘very good thing’.   

And Tory chairman James Cleverly told Sky News’ Ridge on Sunday: ‘What we are looking at is a whole range of options on making sure the whole of the UK feels properly connected to politics.’

Pressed on whether the government would move the Lords, he said: ‘We might. It is one of a range of things that we are looking at.’  

Boris Johnson is believed to have ordered detailed work on the practicalities of relocating peers (pictured at the state opening last month) to Yorkshire

Boris Johnson is believed to have ordered detailed work on the practicalities of relocating peers (pictured at the state opening last month) to Yorkshire

Relocating the Lords out of London would be a signal of intent from Mr Johnson (pictured) after the Tories created a new powerbase in the north and midlands at the election

Relocating the Lords out of London would be a signal of intent from Mr Johnson (pictured) after the Tories created a new powerbase in the north and midlands at the election

The Lords proposals would use the huge restoration project currently getting under way at Parliament as a springboard for change,

MPs and peers are already due to move out of the building for around six years in 2025 while the multi-billion pound overhaul takes place.

But the idea being mooted in Downing Street is that peers would end up in a new purpose-built building away from London.  

If York was chosen, the city would become a centre of political power for the first time since the English Civil War – when it played host to the Council of the North. 

The three-hour travel time is seen as manageable, with technology deployed to minimise the need to be in the same location as MPs and ministers. 

One senior government source told the Sunday Times: ‘The York proposal is much further along. 

‘The PM is also keen to have parliamentary sessions in the regions, be it Sunderland or Manchester, so people get a chance to feel democracy in action first hand.’ 

James Cleverly

Alok Sharma

Tory chairman James Cleverly (left) and International Development Secretary Alok Sharma (right) confirmed that the Lords relocation is on the cards  

The Commons (pictured) could also go 'on tour', holding debates away from London, in a bid to reconnect democracy to the wider UK

The Commons (pictured) could also go ‘on tour’, holding debates away from London, in a bid to reconnect democracy to the wider UK

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